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Here he met Samuel Taylor Coleridge, a fellow pupil who was Lamb's close friend for the rest of their lives and who helped stir his growing interest in poetry. (Because he had a severe stammer, he did not seek a university career, then intended to prepare young men for orders in the Church of England.) In September 1791 he found work as a clerk at the South Sea House, but he left the following February, and in April he became a clerk at the East India Company, where he remained for thirty-three years, never feeling fitted for the work nor much interested in "business," but managing to survive, though without promotion.Soon after leaving school, he was sent to Hertfordshire to his ill grandmother, housekeeper in a mansion seldom visited by its owners.While there are a few fine lines and the writing in general is competent but unoriginal, plotting and character are weak: it was never produced.
Yet these poems are among his most "prosy," with only an occasional impressive passage; their grammatical complexities are hard to follow.
Several were published with poems by his Quaker friend Charles Lloyd in their some they have died and some they have left me, And some are taken from me; all are departed; All, all are gone, the old familiar faces.
(1980) gathers his criticism from all sources, including letters.
A new edition of his entertaining letters is also underway.
Many of Lamb's essays before those he signed Elia came out in Hunt's publications." For students of Lamb and for his recent biographers, Lamb's poetry is mainly of interest as autobiography and as light on the essays, often treating the same subjects.
The great French critic Charles-Augustin Sainte-Beuve admired Lamb's early sonnet "Innocence" so much that he translated it, but most critics then and now agree with Leigh Hunt that Lamb "wanted sufficient heat and music to render his poetry as good as his prose." Alaric A.
It has a Keatsian charm but little lasting distinction.
The tragedy of 22 September 1796—when Mary, exhausted and deranged from overwork, killed their mother with a carving knife—changed both their lives forever.
(Lamb too had been confined briefly at Hoxton for his mental state in 1795, but there was no later recurrence.) Both were known for their capacity for friendship and for their mid-life weekly gatherings of writers, lawyers, actors, and the odd but interesting "characters" for whom Lamb had a weakness.
For the moment Lamb "renounced" poetry altogether, but he soon took it up again and began work on a tragedy in Shakespearean blank verse, (1802), which has autobiographical elements.